Not too long ago, wildlife researchers exploring a remote jungle in Vietnam chanced to come across a freakishly big stick insect that they say remained unknown to the scientific community until they found it and studied it.
The stick insect, photos of which are included in the gallery accompanying this article, is said to be the second longest thus far discovered anywhere in the world.
It is understood that researchers with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences found it in Vietnam’s Tay Yen Tu Nature Reserve, which sits at a distance of about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Hanoi, the country’s capital city.
Just how big is this insect?
Entomologists who have had the chance to study this newly discovered insect, which now goes by the name of Phryganistria heusii yentuensis, say that its body measures about 32 centimeters (12.6 inches) from one end to the other.
When its stretched legs are also factored in, the insect is an impressive 54 centimeters (21.2 inches) long. In fact, it is so long that, when observed from afar, it looks less like an insect and more like a very slim tree branch.
Wildlife researchers explain that such insects rely on their tree branch-like appearance to keep safe from predators. Thus, they like to simply cling to one tree or another, move as if blowing in the wind, and go through life pretty much unnoticed.
Despite their impressive size and fairly scary looks, Phryganistria heusii yentuensis and fellow stick insects are not predatory creatures. On the contrary, they only eat plants, DM informs.
As mentioned, this stick insect is argued to be the second largest of its kind to have until now been discovered anywhere in the world. The absolute largest is a 56-centimeter (22-inch) one currently populating forests in Borneo.
How the insect was discovered
Funnily enough, the explorers who documented this previously unknown stick insect species in Vietnam’s Tay Yen Tu Nature Reserve say that, to find it, they simply used long poles to beat tress and then collected whatever creatures fell to the ground.
Mind you, the researchers were not even expecting to find a new stick insect species, let alone a record-breaking one. Thus, they were only looking to gain a better understanding of biodiversity in this corner of the world.
It is understood that, during this expedition, the entomologists collected hundreds of insect specimens. They are now hard at work trying to identify and catalog them.